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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Shops face Christmas Day ban
Shopping
Christmas is an extremely busy time for retailers
Large stores in Scotland could be banned from opening on Christmas Day to guarantee workers a day off.

The Scottish Executive is considering forcing big retailers to have a day's holiday with effect from next year.

A survey in England found the vast majority of people want High Street chains to stay shut on 25 December.

The shop workers' union, Usdaw, said it was concerned that up to one in five large stores could open on Christmas Day in future if demand increased.

But Fiona Moriarty, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said it was important to look at the whole picture.

We conducted a survey of 1,000 shop workers which found that almost all of them supported a legal ban on Christmas Day trading
Sir Bill Connor
Usdaw
"We have to look at consumer demand - is the demand going to be there for Christmas Day shopping?" she said.

"We also have to remember that Christmas is actually a Christian festival and ours is a multi-cultural society.

"There will be certain people who don't celebrate Christmas and perhaps they want to shop on Christmas Day."

Christmas Day was not traditionally a public holiday in Scotland in the past but Usdaw wants to close the loophole in the law which states that large shops must only close on Christmas Day if it is a Sunday.

"Earlier this year, we conducted a survey of 1,000 shop workers which found that almost all of them supported a legal ban on Christmas Day trading," Usdaw general secretary Sir Bill Connor said.

Holiday culture

Ministers in England are understood to be concerned that other faiths could now press for similar treatment for their important holy days.

The Department of Trade and Industry stressed the plan was not motivated by religious considerations.

"It is not particularly a religious thing," the spokesman said.

"There is a diversity of religious groups in this country. But Christmas Day is a major part of the UK's holiday culture."

A UK Government survey of 102 retail companies found that 92% intended to keep their stores closed on Christmas Day.

However, 19 companies stated that remaining closed would depend on competitive pressures or change in demand.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"Unions fear the annual High Street holidays are being eroded"



SEE ALSO:
Scots set for festive spending
20 Nov 02  |  Scotland
Scotland's multi-faith Christmas
24 Dec 01  |  Scotland
Shops to open on Christmas Day
18 Dec 01  |  Business


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